Seed to the Sower
Here at Africa Heartwood Project we have had great success in sowing seeds of positive change and of love in the lives of the poor whom we serve in Africa. In order to sow seeds, one must first obtain seeds and the means to sow them. That’s what this “Seed to the Sower” project is all about; making sure our small but dedicated administrative team continues to have “seeds” to sow – or the financial means to administer our programs – in a sustainable, workable way for all involved. The inspiration for this theme comes from Paul’s teachings about service in the New Testament, quoted on the right.
2 Corinthians 9:6-11
6. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
9. (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
10. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11. Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
Our Model for Producing Seeds
Rather than having directors and staff who are paid from donations, we depend on revenue from our own home-grown, for-profit social enterprise to cover our administrative and operating expenses. In response to the need to create business opportunities for cultural artisans in West Africa (see our project Fighting Poverty One Drum at a Time), Dayspring International was organized in 2005. As drums are imported and marketed online (DjembeDirect.com and World Percussion USA) not only are many cultural artisans sustained in their livelihoods, profits are also generated to cover administrative expenses that the non-profit would otherwise incur. In this way 100% of public donations can be dedicated to implementing projects the donors have chosen. Everything accomplished for good by Africa Heartwood Project has been a result of the dedicated work of volunteers!
Why We Need Your Help to Grow More Seeds
While our financial model represents the ideal in how we wish to operate our charity, we have learned through experience that it is not without its constraints. At one time Africa Heartwood Project operated on a time-available, money-available basis, but our project commitments have since become too great for that model to be sustainable. The operation of Africa Heartwood Project has grown into a full-time effort. However, our administrative capacity is a zero-sum game: Time given to running the for-profit means time taken from volunteering in the non-profit; financial resources used to cover non-profit administrative overhead is money not re-invested to grow and operate the for-profit. As with any business, growth and profits depend on many variables, including the ebb and flow of niche markets, and finite human resources largely shared between the two organizations. For this reason, a fund is required that can be drawn on to sustain the operation of our social enterprise during lean times, thus allowing the work of Africa Heartwood Project to continue unhindered by the financial position of the social enterprise at any given time. We find this option much preferred over the standard non-profit model of salaried directors and dedicated infrastructure with large budgets for overhead, marketing, etc., which would necessarily reduce the portion of donations that actually go to project implementation.
What is a Social Enterprise?
A social enterprise is an organization that operates like a business but with a dual purpose: to generate profits by producing goods or services for the market, for the express purpose of achieving a social good.
Dayspring International is Africa Heartwood Project’s social enterprise, a separate entity with shared leadership, which provides jobs for African cultural artisans through buying and selling their products for profit, and using those profits to pay for the administrative expenses and overhead of the non-profit.
How Your Donation Creates Sustainable Growth
Seed to the Sower is the only project we have whose donation income is an investment that creates additional revenue for charitable use, both in terms of additional non-profit donations and gross revenue for the social enterprise. For illustrative purposes, when looking at data from January 2012 to June 2013, for every dollar ($1 USD) spent by Dayspring in covering administrative overhead, the equivalent of $3.30 USD was generated in funds raised for our non-profit work in Africa, and $7.00 USD was earned in gross for-profit revenue by the social enterprise. Truely, a donation to Seed to the Sower is like planting a seed that grows into fruit that produces many more seeds to be sown!
Donations to our Seed to the Sower fund are tax deductible and are held in a non-profit savings account until they are required to supplement the operation of Africa Heartwood Project during times when the social enterprise lacks funds to do so. Directors and staff never receive compensation for time dedicated to managing Africa Heartwood Project. Rather, Seed to the Sower funds are routed through Dayspring International as below-market supplemental compensation to those who run the business full time, thus easing the temporary financial strains that would make underwriting the non-profit fiscally unviable.